YMCA Short Course Nationals Canceled For First Time Since 1947

The 2020 YMCA Short Course National Championships, scheduled for March 30-April 3 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, will be canceled in response to developments in the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

YMCA of the USA staff was informed in an email obtained by SwimSwam that it must cancel all Y-hosted in-person events through April 30, including “trainings, meetings requiring travel, and the national swim championships.”

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Executive leadership has decided to implement policies to reduce the risk to our staff and their families. Regardless of the concern level, it is our social responsibility to help protect vulnerable populations and keep communities strong,” Chief Human Resources Officer Kate Wollensak wrote.

The meet was expected to draw 1,400 swimmers from around the nation. Short Course YMCA national championships have been held yearly since 1923, with the only prior cancelations coming in 1942-45 for World World II, and in 1947.

YMCA Nationals is now the most prominent of a slew of age group-level meets to be canceled Tuesday, which also includes multiple junior Olympic championship meets. There is no word yet on if the upcoming NCAA Championships across all three divisions will be impacted, but notably, Greensboro is also hosting Division III’s meet.

Full email from YMCA of the USA Chief Human Resources Officer Kate Wollensak:

Dear Y-USA staff,

The Executive Team met this morning to discuss continuing developments with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and address the health and safety of all Y-USA staff and their families.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Executive leadership has decided to implement policies to reduce the risk to our staff and their families. Regardless of the concern level, it is our social responsibility to help protect vulnerable populations and keep communities strong.

Effective March 11, all Y-USA staff in both Chicago and DC offices are mandated to work remote through March 27.

We will re-evaluate this policy in the coming weeks and update staff by March 26 if they will be expected to resume working from the office on March 30.

Additionally, Y-USA staff are instructed to:

  • Cancel all business travel through March 27
  • Cancel all Y-USA hosted in-person events through April 30, including trainings, meetings requiring travel, and national swim championships

Note: While NAYDO and State Alliance meetings are not hosted by Y-USA, we are sharing our decision with the organizers to inform their decision-making.

  • Hold off booking any new business travel until further notice

Guidelines for Staff

Thank you in advance for complying with these mandates. Your supervisor will work with you to ensure a smooth transition and help you remain productive under these temporary work conditions. Please review the following tips and work quickly to prioritize any action steps that are needed for your success.

  1. Share your cell phone number with your supervisor and those on your team who may need it on a temporary basis.
  2. Review all upcoming meetings through March 27 and make arrangements to either postpone or convert them to virtual meetings. This may include canceling food orders.
  3. Test your technology today (Skype, Teams, and other virtual tools) to ensure you will be able to work from home uninterrupted. Our IT Service Desk can be reached via email or phone: 312-667-5012.
  4. If you are currently out of the office or on vacation, you will be permitted to access 101 and the DC office to retrieve needed belongings as needed and only for this purpose.
  5. Stay tuned for more information as we work quickly to expand on more action steps and respond to frequently asked questions. Y-USA will continue to use email as our primary method of communicating updates and we will use The Loop to keep the lines of communication open with staff for non-urgent questions or concerns.

A reminder that these decisions were made out of an abundance of caution and not resulting from any specific risk factors here at Y-USA.

If you have immediate questions about these temporary arrangements, please reach out to your supervisor.

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James Beam

plus if you agree, minus if you disagree.

Woke Stasi

I agree with the majority on this one. Let’s just hope that we don’t “do a full Italy.” You may have read that Italy is planning to introduce a large-scale moratorium on debt repayments, including mortgages, to help families and businesses cope with the coronavirus outbreak. (Of course, Italy’s financial system has nowhere near the strength and resilience of the US one has.) My gut feel (and I hope I’m right on this): three months from now in June, we’re going to look back and think to ourselves, “What was that all about?”

Ol' Longhorn

You’re obviously not looking at the Johns Hopkins interactive tracker. Cases in the U.S. are doubling every 48-72 hours, and once we have widespread testing, it will be rampant.

Irish Ringer

I don’t know if it’s doubling, but a good dashboard none the less. Pay close attention to the chart in the lower left hand corner. Notice it’s leveling out in mainland China.


No we won’t. We’ll either look back and think “whew that was close” or we’ll be too poor off to look back and reflect at all.

Irish Ringer

You figure it’s slowing down in China with 80,000 cases and 3162 deaths reported in a nation with a population of ~1.47 billion people. I don’t even think we’ll look back and say that was close. We’ll look back and wonder why did
we go through such extreme measures.

You call this "extreme"?!

Have you read anything about what measures China had to take to get it under control (after letting it get out of control initially)? What we’re doing now in the US is borderline negligent compared to the amount of lockdown that happened there once the story could no longer be controlled.

Irish Ringer

Yes?! I call this extreme based on my past experience living in the US, but if you can recall a similar event in the US in your lifetime please do share.


Why do you think it needs to have a precedent in order to be taken seriously? Just because a hurricane had never destroyed New Orleans before Katrina doesn’t mean Katrina wasn’t catastrophic.

On what are you basing your opinion that this is an overreaction? On the mortality rate? The rate of infection and the mechanism of infection? The geographical spread? The repeated failed attempts at containment?

I get that it hasn’t personally impacted you yet; but that seems like a pretty self-centered reason to argue against precautionary containment measures.


Can’t agree more. I lived in Wuhan for the first 25 years of my life and all my family and friends are still there. They, like millions of people, have stayed inside their apartments for almost 50 days. Most of them do not complain about the extreme measures, because they witnessed how things got scary and out of control. Everyone I talked with has a close connection that passed way, and can share sad stories about how the healthcare system being overwhelmed and people simply couldn’t get the care they need, whether they have COVID-19, or cancer, kidney failure, a broken ankle. This happened when people did not know this novel coronavirus is highly contagious and did NOTHING to slow… Read more »


BTW, I am a mom of a 14-year old who got his first sectional cuts this season and is 0.01 second away from a team record he had been working so hard towards. We just learned the remaining local meets had already been cancelled. So it’s not like I don’t understand what all these mean to swimmers. There are priorities.

Ymca Coronavirus expert

No this is not true, Italy has gotten worse over the past 2 weeks. We will be in lockdown soon and all forced to stay at home. Without it we will not flatten the curve and many many will die.


plus if you are a swim fan, minus if you are an epidemiologist (and a swim fan)


With you. Microbiologist. Knowledge is power!

Steve Nolan

Ooh wow. Ya, we really need to start cancelling things NOW.


Do we think USA swimming will release tougher olympic trial cuts to minimize the number of athletes attending?


They simply can not tell someone who worked the past 4 years to qualify and got their cut that they can’t attend. Simply can’t do that.


Better than them canceling the meet though


Tell that to Jimmy Carter.

Ol' Longhorn

Uh, yeah they can. That problematic little thing called public welfare trumps it.

I think this would only happen as an absolute last resort. Like, if the state government said “you have to get this under 1000 people or you can’t have it,” and dropping the cuts was the only way to save the meet.

Trials are still a long way away. So, the good news is that USA Swimming has time to “wait and see.”


That’s the way I see it, I brought it up because this and y nats are similarly sized meets


They could do what they do for the Boston Marathon; even if you qualify you have to have one of the top [insert number] times to be able to run in the marathon.


Which is similar to how NCAAs work with the “A” and “B” cuts.
As a last resort (vs cancelling altogether) it’s not the worst idea. Better than having a committee pick the team.
However Olympic qualifying criteria is a tough one to change especially after it has been announced, USOPC is involved in approving it and you know there would be legal challenges all over the place.


Well the more Sectionals that are canceled the fewer Trials cuts there will probably be. I would guess that swimmers who would have gotten Trials cuts at a Sectionals are more likely to be Trials participants but not contenders for a US spot at the Olympics.


Tokyo aint happening!!!


They’re proposing a postponement.


lmao “you only have the cut by .1? Sorry buddy, you probably have the virus… only swimmers that have the cut by .5 or more are deemed safe”.


It would seem like they would now cancel D3 Nationals. Are there on word on if NYU, MIT and Amherst would even be in attendance?


Amherst just decide to hold remote classes for the next two weeks and I believe NYU is till April. No word on MIT but heard that other schools in area are doing similar.


My daughter was supposed to visit MIT for recruiting and we received an email said they have cancelled all visits for the spring semester


MIT and Harvard are moving to online classes after spring break. I believe that everyone who lives on MIT’s campus needs to be out in a week (but I think there are exemptions)


Johns Hopkins as well (DIII swim team)

Swim fan

This was decided by the YMCA it seems because it’s about in-person Y-hosted events so D3 nationals wouldn’t be affected (I would believe) by this.


It is important to note however that this was the YMCA organization cancelling all of their events until April 30, which happened to include nationals. Greensboro and the natatorium itself did not cancel ynats, so there’s no reason to assume (yet) that all events there, like the D3 swimming champs, will be cancelled. That’s up to the NCAA and Greensboro.


You just not be watching CNN…


This also isn’t official. The email was a recommendation and nothing has been canceled.

In your world, are mere “recommendations” preceded by the words “Additionally, Y-USA staff are instructed to:”?


From a couple of hours ago…. NCAA statement on COVID-19 and sporting events March 10, 2020 1:13pm NCAA member schools and conferences make their own decisions regarding regular season and conference tournament play. As we have stated, we will make decisions on our events based on the best, most current public health guidance available. Neither the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel, made up of leading public health and infectious disease experts in America, nor the CDC or local health officials have advised against holding sporting events. In the event circumstances change, we will make decisions accordingly. – Mark Emmert, NCAA president


more rational common sense position by NCAA…. will we cancel events in next years due to number of deaths from influenza??????

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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